Intention and mindset are amongst the most difficult things to grasp especially for beginners. They often wander into martial arts "because they fancy it" or because its the fashionable thing to do.
And because their martial arts are nothing more than "something to do on Wednesdays" the art is lost on them. Moving arms and legs into different positions isn't martial art. For a start there's the *how* to move the arms and legs (and everything else....) plus they *why* and the *intention* of the movement.
When students have the opportunity for free practice before the lesson starts; or at points during the lesson; they often stand around chattering or simply wafting through the moves like a mist rolling over autumn meadows.
"It's OK, I don't have to do the stances because I'm just practicing"
In the words of one of my great mentors - "Doh!"
That's the point. Martial arts is what they do between, say 7pm and 8pm on Wednesday. What they do outside of that time doesn't matter, so it's OK to be sloppy the rest of the week.
And they wonder why progress isn't forthcoming.
Boredom is another little nuisance. If you're doing martial arts properly you can never be bored. Boredom is a distraction of the mind which means that when you're bored you're not applying your mind to the training. You might as well be doing kata or whatever you do without bothering with the stances.
Applying the mind is as vital as any physical movement, if not more so. The mind provides the motive force for all movement.
So students who approach martial arts with the intention of trying to look cool, or because it's fashionable lack that motive force that makes martial arts what they are.
An example from sport - the aim of the 100m sprint is to eliminate the space between you and the finish line in as little time as possible. That's an easily understood goal. There are many reasons why people want to study martial arts, but if some kind of martial intent is missing then they're not doing martial arts! Imagine watching a Shakespeare play where the actors don't bother putting emotion into their craft. I'd want my money back!
It's not really possible to ask students to apply their mindset. It's not a text book thing, or an intellectual pursuit.They have to be placed in a situation that makes them get into the right frame, and that means hard work and maybe doing things that aren't too comfortable.
I've learned much about mindset during my running program - more so than a lot of martial arts training I've done.
My next challenge then, is to find ways of putting that state of mind back into the training we do. Martial arts are a great way to socialise and meet people, but time spent during the lesson should be focused on the training. The socialising in the lesson comes from the camaraderie and sharing the intensity of the event, not by gossiping!
The right mindset *must* be applied during all training, even when it's just a quick run through sanchin while your waiting for the kettle to boil. The problem is, how to explain the right mindset to people who have never been there before. There's no text book or academic study. They have to be placed into situations where the mindset happens on its own.
Shallow fitness studio or McDojo style training just doesn't cut it.